Konstantino Jewelry’s 20 years of Fabulous

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In celebration of Konstantino Jewelry’s 20 years of Fabulous, we talk to Annette Sioulas, of Konstantino Jewelry, the partner behind the scenes.

Do you know that Konstantino Jewelry, a leader in the business, this year is currently celebrating “20 years of Fabulous”, and with this celebration you have the opportunity to meet Konstantino himself at one of the many scheduled trunk shows across the USA?

Are you aware that the unique designs have been worn by many, including celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Carlos Santa, Salma Hayek, Oprah Winfrey, Keith Richards, Colin Farrell, P Diddy, Whoopi Goldberg, Shakira, Melina Kanakaredes and Constantine Maroulis—just to name a few.

Did you realize in addition to the store locations in Greece—Hydra, Mykonos, Santorini and Athens (Plaka), the designs are carried by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks 5th Avenue and many fine jewelry stores across the United States, and they also are located and expanding in Canada, 
the Caribbean, Guatemala, Japan, Switzerland and Russia?

Are you surprised to learn that although Konstantino, the face of the company who was born in the Greek village of Melitea, is not alone in running this company, and that he has a partner, Annette Sioulas, who currently resides in Chicago?

 

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I met Annette years ago in Greece, and we bonded instantly. I miss the times I spent with her in Athens often meeting at the Grande Bretagne Rooftop Garden where we would enjoy the delicious food and the company of good friends. I believe that every single time Annette ordered her favorite entrée, the Tuna Steak Tartar with ginger, chili and sesame oil. I remember fondly how she would not allow us to order a bottle of Greek moschofilero wine, although she loves Greek wine, this is far from her favorite:) We would gaze out at the Acropolis enjoying great food and the company of good friends until Annette would end her lunch break and return to their  nearby Athens workshop to continue design work.

While in Greece, I never spoke much to Annette about her role at Konstantino; I just always knew she enjoyed it, working with dedication and passion. I always have known her to be extremely dedicated.

Remembering Athens and my friend during a cold day last winter in Pittsburgh, I decided to give my friend, in her windy Chicago home, a phone call

Let me share a little bit of our phone conversation….

15 years in the make-up and fashion industry of Los Angeles, Annette’s experience and talent gave her the opportunity to travel to Greece and work with Greek Vogue magazine. She accepted the assignment remembering Greece fondly from her first visit to Athens, touring with the rock band, “The Cure”. She enjoyed her time working with Greek Vogue and considered staying on after the initial assignment, but realized she must return to California because Los Angeles provided more career opportunities and growth in the fashion and make-up industry. She struggled with the decision, but felt it was the responsible thing to do was to return.

Before leaving Greece, Annette decided that she deserved some rest and relaxation and wanted to take advantage of being in such a beautiful country before she headed back to the USA.   She asked her Greek co-workers to suggest a quiet island where she could go to alone and meditate. They suggested Hydra. Hydra is an island, a muse, for artists and creative people. Hearing of the island’s community and natural beauty, Annette had a feeling in her heart that Hydra was a special place.

Upon arrival to the island, and being an avid collector of jewelry, she asked a local in the port where to shop for something. “Not the touristy Greek key or evil eye jewelry but something very unique.” She was directed to a small shop up the winding steps…this is where she met Konstantino.

Konstantino had this small shop with jewelry from all over the world alongside the most unique Greek designs. As a customer, she admired all the jewelry that Konstantino had in stock, but even more she admired the jewel that was Konstantino himself—and he reciprocated the feelings. It was love at first sight. Konstantino showed Annette the island during her stay, knowing there would be heartbreak when her departure time arrived.

That return date soon changed, Annette surprised everyone when she called her agent in Los Angeles and said she’d be staying in Greece for the summer, an additional three more months…because she was… falling in love.

Konstantino_artemis_collection

 

Upon returning to Los Angeles, Konstantino and Annette struggled a year with a long distance relationship, but that proved to be too difficult, so she packed her bags, moved to Greece and they got married.

Together for three years, the couple lived a bi-continental life traveling back and forth between Greece and America. This was an extremely difficult lifestyle for a couple, and they realized it would be almost impossible for the family they wished to start. The difficult decision to move to Annette’s birthplace, Minneapolis, Minnesota was made.

As many young couples experience, things were sometimes financially difficult. For Annette, Minneapolis did not offer rewarding career opportunities in her field, and for Kostantino, looking for the best way to provide for the family within the USA was a challenge since his connections and jewelry trade was in Greece.  This is when Annette said to Konstantino, “Why don’t we import jewelry from Greece and sell it to all the people we know?”. Annette still had many professional contacts in the fashion world, and knew they would appreciate and desire the style of jewelry like that Konstantino once carried in his small island store.

They went to Greece and began working with local artisans and designers in bringing the unique ideas they had to life and then over to America. They brought pieces to America and began to do trade shows. Going back and forth between Greece, and New York, while also having the duties of raising two small children, proved difficult, but their dedication to work and family kept them going. Their first office/workshop/store was actually their tiny master bedroom in Minneapolis. The first employee they hired was their neighbor who needed a job and knew accounting.   The business was born.

Perhaps one of the most pivotal points for Konstantino Jewelry was when Neiman Marcus Department Stores found them at a trade show and ordered their designs. It was at this point with such a large customer, Kostantino and Annette decided to take full control of design and manufacturing. Before they ever had the retail stores in Greece (Hydra, Mykonos, Santorini and Athens), they opened a workshop and studio for the production of all their pieces that were exported to the USA.

The business exploded with rapid growth.  Not able to keep up with the orders, they started restricting products to one distributor per area. Having to turn people away, they knew at this point expansion was necessary. At optimal growth about ten years ago, they changed their logo and streamlined into a high-end company. Now they have a team that does casting, model making, stone setting, marketing, and bookkeeping yet, they remain at the core of it all—committed to doing all the design.

 

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Can you imagine how fortunate I was to spend my entire summer in Greece, where I was able to once again share a great lunch with Annette at the Grande Bretagne? It was very nice to reconnect with her this summer after the phone conversation this winter. Of course, she was extremely busy and I couldn’t spend much time with her, as Konstantino Jewelry works about a year in advance on the design of new collections.   The collection her and Konstantino were working on this summer of 2014 will debut to buyers around November for their Spring 2015 line.

I asked Annette about a project she was considering when we spoke a while ago in Athens. Typical of girl talk, our conversation turned to handbags, and she told me at that time she was considering having the company design leather goods.

She tells me she has made some samples, but the project will have to be put on hold since the design season has hit. She recently created some pieces, carrying one herself (which I must say was stunning) and tells me there has been great interest. She will take a trip to Milan to begin finding materials and resources. This project will begin by building collections for all seasons to show. She explains the massive amount of work it will be to introduce a whole new division into the company, but they are considering it and already have some contacts in place. Keeping in line with the philosophy of Konstantino Jewelry, she wants to be sure any leather good products that are created are done so with local artisans and use real handmade ‘back to basic’ design and production; in the country of origin.

Annette also told me that Konstantino Jewelry will have a busy fall and winter, as they celebrate their 20 years as a company with trunk shows and appearances throughout the USA.

Now you know that Konstantino Jewelry Company had a slow start, but grew steadily and became strong from great talent and good insight. Not a trend, not a phenomenon, but classic style. They produce and make the handcrafted jewelry with love, from the heart. …. Greek passion….

Would you like to discover the locations of trunk shows and appearances?

Would you like to see more beautiful photos of their gorgeous designs?

Visit the website….

http://www.konstantino.com

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. susy @aegeansea

    November 2, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I am very familiar with the lovely collections of Konstantino! You filled in the wonderful details about Annette! Thanks so much for the article! I live in Greece & USA, so the story is easy to connect to.

    • Patty

      November 5, 2014 at 2:47 am

      Thanks Susy–There are so many stories of people who spend their time between Greece and somewhere else—In fact, I do:)
      As far as jewelry goes, I can not get enough of Konstantino jewelry!

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